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Preserve America is a national initiative in cooperation with the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation; the U.S. Departments of Defense, Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, Housing and Urban Development, Transportation, and Education; the National Endowment for the Humanities; the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities; and the President's Council on Environmental Quality.

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Seven Maryland Preserve America Communities Designated, Recognized at ACHP Business Meeting

May 18, 2005, Annapolis, MD—Annapolis, Oakland, St. Mary's County, and Worcester County received certificates of designation as Preserve America Communities today at the spring business meeting of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP).

The certificates, signed by Mrs. Laura Bush, Honorary Chair of the Preserve America initiative, were presented on her behalf by John L. Nau, III, Chairman of the ACHP.

Representatives of the newly designated Preserve America Communities
Representatives of Maryland's newly designated Preserve America Communities. From left to right: Oakland Mayor Asa McCain; St. Mary's Board of County Commissioners President Thomas McKay; St. Mary's County Dept. of Land Use and Growth Management Historic Preservation Planner Teri Wilson; Annapolis Mayor Ellen Moyar; Oakland Main Street Manager Cherie Ross; Annapolis Planning and Zoning Dept. Historic Preservation Chief Donna Hole; Snow Hill Historic District Commission Chair Susanne Knudsen; and Worcester County Commission President John Bloxom. (photo: Severn Graphics)

Three previously designated Preserve America communities—Cumberland, Dorchester County, and Snow Hill—also were recognized during the ceremony for being among the first in the Nation to be named. The session was held in the Calvert Room at the Maryland State House.

"There are significant economic, educational, and cultural benefits that historic preservation, through efforts such as heritage tourism, bring to a community," Nau said.

"Sustainable preservation is not a cost for maintaining the past, it is an investment in building the future. These communities are leaders in this trend and have created a powerful positive example for others."

The Preserve America initiative is a White House effort to encourage and support community efforts for the preservation and enjoyment of America's priceless cultural and natural heritage. The goals of the initiative include a greater shared knowledge about the Nation's past; strengthened regional identities and local pride; increased local participation in preserving the country's cultural and natural heritage assets; and support for the economic vitality of communities.

The following are some of the communities' heritage attributes that resulted in their Preserve America Community designation:

  • Annapolis—One of the earliest planned cities in the United States, it was surveyed in 1695 following a baroque plan of circles and radiating streets. Its core contains the largest surviving concentration of Georgian architectural structures in the Nation. The Maryland State House is the oldest State capitol still serving its original purpose. A National Historic Landmark, it was from here that the call for the Constitutional Convention went out in 1786.
  • Oakland—The county seat of Garrett County is located at the western edge of Maryland and was founded in 1849. Rich natural resources and a rail transportation system led to a prosperous beginning for the city, and the railroad later created resorts and marketed the area as a tourist destination. Oakland is an active participant in the contemporary multi-state Appalachian Forest Heritage Area tourism initiative.
  • St. Mary's County—The first English settlement in Maryland, St. Mary's City, was founded in 1634 and today is interpreted through accurately reconstructed buildings, stabilized archeological sites, and living history demonstrations. The county flourished on a slave economy in which tobacco farming played a key role before the Civil War. Today visitors are drawn by the State-designated Southern Maryland Heritage Area and offerings including the Patuxent River Naval Air Museum.
  • Worcester County—Established in 1742 on the Atlantic Coast, today's Beach to Bay Indian Trail, a National Recreation Trail, reminds contemporary visitors and residents that this was a homeland with a rich human history before Europeans and Africans arrived. Inland, the Pocomoke River provided deep water access and ports for early settlers. The first hotel in Ocean City opened in 1875, and the allure of the Eastern Shore draws millions of vacationers each year.

Three other Maryland communities that earlier became Preserve America Communities were also represented and recognized for their efforts at the ceremony at the Maryland State House. They are:

  • Cumberland—The "Gateway to the West" as the eastern terminus of the National Road, which was the Federal Government's first foray into major road construction, the city was founded in 1787 near the site of George Washington's Fort Cumberland. It was the western terminus of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, as well as a major railroad center. Today Cumberland thrives on its well-preserved past memorialized in projects such as the Canal Place Preservation District.
  • Snow Hill—The city owes its origins to its location on the Pocomoke River, which made it an important port for this rich agricultural region. The town suffered a catastrophic fire in 1893 but nonetheless retains a wealth of historic buildings. Along with its lovely location on the river, these structures are a key resource for the city's revitalization plan that gives the city's historic remnants and heritage a fundamental position in its economic development strategy.
  • Dorchester County—One of the first eight Preserve America Communities in the Nation, the county's heritage of watermen, farmers, and refugees from oppression is richly interpreted by many local sites, interpretive efforts, and seven historically oriented museums. The county was the home of famed Underground Railroad conductor Harriet Tubman, who spirited enslaved persons north to freedom before emancipation.

As of May 18, 2005, there were 247 designated Preserve America Communities located in 37 States nationwide. The first eight communities nationwide, which included Dorchester County, were designated January 15, 2004.

Communities designated through the program receive national recognition for their efforts. Benefits include use of the Preserve America logo, listing in a Government Web-based directory to showcase preservation and heritage tourism efforts, and eligibility for proposed Preserve America grants that are currently being considered by Congress.

The next quarterly deadline for applications to become a Preserve America Community is September 1, 2005. For more information, application forms, and procedures, visit www.preserveamerica.gov/communities.html.

Posted May 27, 2005

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